In July the County Commission voted on Sheriff Wayne Ivey’s request to exceed the charter cap in order to increase his budget under what he classified as a list of critical needs for his department. The vote passed 4-1 with Commissioner John Tobia against the measure, and went into effect October 1st. Tobia suggested that the county should have reworked its budget plan, and cut expenses elsewhere if it wanted to give the sheriff more money instead of increases spending.
Under the charter, there is a limit (cap) on how much property tax rates can increase. However, if a department request an increase in the rate under the claim of critical needs, the Commission can then “bust the cap” with a super majority vote in support of the increase.
Many residents came out in opposition of this increase in property taxes, and scrutinized the process and the transparency of the Sheriff’s spending habits. Speaker which were mostly republicans, praised the job the Sheriff was doing, but did not support him asking for increased spending. They were critical that the Sheriff offered no cuts in his existing budget to try and reallocate to the items on his critical needs list.
In the critical needs declaration, the Sheriff cited numerous items. He listed a need for more deputies and recruitment issues blaming a relative low starting pay for new deputies compared to other law enforcement agencies. Ivey claimed this was the cause of a high turnover rate among deputies leaving BCSO for higher paying jobs. He also claimed the need for new vehicles, and equipment such as tasers exceeding their warranty periods.